Volunteer firefighters are people who want to make a difference in their communities and step up to help in emergency situations. They volunteer to help the first responders in saving lives, putting out fires, assisting in rescue operations, and also organize training and fundraising events.

According to the annual report generated by the US Fire Administration, in 2022 the number of registered firefighters in the country was 1,215,700. Out of these, 1,063,900 (88%) were active career personnel including volunteers and paid on-call firefighters. 54% out of the active personnel are volunteer firefighters.

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What Does It Mean to Be a Volunteer Firefighter

Volunteer firefighters have an important role to play in communities as their contribution means more hands-on deck, especially in emergency situations. Volunteer firefighters have several responsibilities like:

  • Community Outreach – This means creating awareness in general public about fire safety and prevention. Assisting in life-saving training courses and organizing fundraisers for community services.
  • Fire Station Duties – Firefighter volunteers also assist at fire stations, helping out with maintenance of equipment, tools, and firefighting apparatus.
  • Administrative Tasks – Some volunteers also provide assistance in filing reports and completing paperwork. They also help out in training exercise and fire drills.

Volunteer firefighters have two categories

  • Youth Volunteer Firefighters.
  • Adult Volunteer Firefighters.

Junior Firefighting Programs are designed for the youth and it comes with duties like working on safety education programs, fire prevention activities, and public awareness.

Adult Volunteer Firefighters have rigorous training requirements as they have to clear physical test, meet background check, and be fit to enough tough tasks. Volunteer firefighters perform duties like:

  • Fire Suppression
  • Search & Rescue
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Traffic Control

As per the data available by U.S. Fire Administration, below are the top five states ranked according to percentage of registered volunteer and mostly volunteer fire departments.



Number of Volunteers (%)
South Dakota96.6%
North Dakota96.3%

Should I Become a Volunteer Firefighter in the US?

Firefighters drive firetrucks, put out fires, and treat sick or injured people since they are the first responders in case a fire breaks out. Firefighting is a dangerous profession but if you think you have what it takes to become one, then keep reading.
you think you have what it takes to become one, then keep reading.

Education RequiredHigh School Diploma or GED
Experience/TrainingLicense/Certification EMT Certification needed
Experience/Training Training RequiredKey Skills Physical Stamina, Decision-making, Quick Thinking, Courage, etc.
Annual Mean Salary (2019)National $54,650
Job Outlook (2018-2028)5%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019)

Steps to Become a Firefighter in the US

You need to meet the following steps to become a firefighter in the US:

Get the Required Education and Meet the Age Limit

Get a high school diploma or a GED as the first step if you want to become a firefighter in the US. Once your high school is finished, consider getting a certificate or an associate’s degree in a subject like fire science because that will improve your chances of landing a job and getting a promotion. Normally firefighters across the US should be 18 years old at least to apply for the position of a firefighter.

Submit an Application and Clear Tests

You need to fill form(s) to apply for the position of a firefighter. Then you will have to go through a series of steps. You will have to clear a written exam and also the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT). You will also have to clear a background check and a physical fitness test before you can move on to the next stage.

Clear the Interview

Once you meet the above-mentioned requirements, you will have to go for an interview.

Get an EMT Certification

Quite a few jurisdictions in the US require firefighters to get an EMT certification since they are the first people to reach the vicinity of the fire and might have to treat injured people at the site.

Attend the Fire Academy

Once you have cleared all the steps and met all the requirements of your jurisdiction, you will have to join a fire academy to get training. It can take you around 6 months to get properly trained at the academy.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Volunteer Firefighter?

The duration to become a firefighter will depend on the educational path you have picked and how long it takes you to complete the entire process. The hiring process is quite lengthy and can take a lot of time, so you will have to be patient to get through it.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Volunteer Firefighter?

The following are the requirements to become a volunteer firefighter:

  • Meet the educational requirements
  • Be 18 years old at least
  • Hold a valid driver’s license
  • Apply for the job
  • Clear all the tests and interview
  • Get EMT Certification
  • Complete fire academy training

How Much Can I Earn as a Volunteer Firefighter?

As per the latest information provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, firefighters in the US earned $54,650 as annual mean income in the US in 2019. California was the highest paying state in the country for firefighters with an annual mean income of $84,370.